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UK Plugin EVs Take 27.7% Share — Tesla Model Y Bestseller

The UK auto market saw plugin electric vehicles take 27.7% share in November, down from 28.1% year on year. Full electric share grew YoY, but was outweighed by plugin hybrids’ decline. Overall auto volumes were up over 23% YoY, to 142,889 units, though still almost 9% down on 2019 seasonal levels. The Tesla Model Y was the bestselling BEV in November, and second overall.

November’s overall plugin result of 27.7% comprised 20.6% battery electrics (BEVs), and 7.1% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). These compare to 18.8% and 9.3%, respectively, a year ago.

November’s BEV share was the second highest on record, following on from last year’s December peak (25.5%). Expect December 2022 to break new ground for BEV share.

In volume terms, BEV sales were up 35% YoY, to 29,372 units. This is the best volume result on record, outside of new-license-plate months (March and September). Year to date, BEV volumes now stand at 224,919 units, a healthy growth of 38% compared to 2021 YTD.

Diesel-only powertrain share hit a new all-time low of 3.9% in November, from 5.1% YoY. The volume sold was 5,605 units.

UK Bestselling BEV Brands

As usual, we have some data on new BEV registrations by brand share. After being almost absent in October, Tesla was back with another strong month in November, taking 21% of the UK’s BEV sales.

The leader, the Tesla Model Y, was in fact November’s second best selling vehicle in the overall UK market, with 4,229 units registered. The Model Y is also the UK’s overall 9th best selling vehicle YTD, with 24,887 units delivered.

Some way behind in November’s BEV brand rankings, BMW took 8.8% of the market, and MG came in third, with 7.5%.

The brands having a relatively strong showing in November included Porsche, Genesis, Volvo, and Polestar. All saw monthly volumes at least 2x their typical levels. Genesis is still ramping in the UK, having only launched this last summer. The brand looks set to soon overtake Jaguar, and make it on to the top 20 list.

Toyota finally restarted its BZ4X deliveries at decent volume, though not quite enough to get on to the top 20 list (perhaps in the coming months).

The Ora Cat made its initial UK sampling deliveries in November (just a handful of units for now). This medium sized, premium hatchback brings new value to the segment and may prove popular in the UK.

Let’s look at the trailing 3-month picture:

Tesla is still very dominant, grabbing 19.8% of the UK BEV market over the past three months. BMW climbed strongly, taking the runner-up spot, though with only half of Tesla’s share. MG also climbed over recent months, and gained 3rd place.

Here are the main climbers since the June-to-August period:

Where some go up in ranking, others must go down:

  • Kia fell from 2nd to 10th
  • Hyundai fell from 3rd to 8th
  • Vauxhall (Opel) fell from 8th to 11th
  • Skoda fell from 12th to 16th
  • Fiat fell from 15th to 22nd

Some of these moves may be temporary ones, based on batch manufacturing of RHD variants of models for the UK, and thus shipment irregularities. If RHD batch manufacturing comes less frequently than once per 3 months, a model’s market share will take an occasional dive. We thus can’t necessarily read too much into the results, but it’s clear that the Tesla brand for now maintains a crushing lead in the UK BEV market.

Let’s step back, and look at the UK market shares of the main BEV manufacturing groups:

Three months ago, in the June-to-August period, Tesla took a temporary hit from Shanghai production pauses, “only” winning 14.8% share, and ranking just third. Now Tesla is back on top in the UK.

Tesla’s November recovery displaced VW Group from the top spot, now down to second, with share dropping from 21.4% to 17.2% — still a strong result.

BMW saw good growth, climbing from 5th place to 3rd, and from 8.7% share, to 12.5%. Hyundai Motor Group reduced share dramatically, from 16% to 9.7%, and fell from 3rd to 5th. Stellantis reduced share from 14.2% to 9.5%, and dropped from 4th to 5th.

Just outside the top 5, MG’s parent group, SAIC, grew from 5.9% to 7.3%, and with the new MG4 hatchback now available, may challenge for the #5 (perhaps even #4) position sometime in the coming months.

Outlook

The UK’s auto industry association, the SMMT, is now anticipating 15.4% auto market growth in 2023, though volumes will still not recover to pre-2020 levels.

They also urge government measures to encourage more investment in EV changing networks, to encourage more EV adoption in the years ahead.

The UK’s largest overall industrial association, the CBI, has just forecast that it expects the UK economy to contract by 0.4% in 2023, including a continuing fall in consumer spending. On the bright side, the CBI expects that inflation has now peaked at 11.1% and may fall from now on, though will remain near 4% over the course of 2023.

The Director-General of the CBI, Tony Danker, had this message for the UK government:

“Britain is in stagflation – with rocketing inflation, negative growth, falling productivity and business investment. Firms see potential growth opportunities but a lack of “reasons to believe” in the face of headwinds are causing them to pause investing in 2023. Government can change this. Their action or inaction to support growth and investment will be a key determinant of whether recession is shallow or deep.” (Tony Danker, UK CBI head).

We will have to see whether the CBI forecast will be more impactful on the auto market in 2023 than the auto industry’s own, more up-beat, forecast.

Certainly, whether overall auto volumes increase or not, with high road fuel prices, and more affordable BEV models becoming available, we can expect plugin share to continue to grow.

What are your expectations for the UK auto market in the months and years ahead? Please jump into the comment section below to join the discussion.

 

 

 
 
 
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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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